COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate by age

Jury out on whether younger people face serious health consequences

NO ONE IS IMMUNE to COVID-19, but teens and pre-teens come pretty close.

The latest data from the state Department of Public Health indicate just over 70 percent of those infected are distributed fairly evenly between the ages of 20 and 60. Those under 20 account for just 2 percent of cases, while those over 60 account for nearly 28 percent.

Marylou Sudders, the governor’s secretary of health and human services, said the numbers illustrate that no one is immune from the disease. She said it still appears that people older than 60 and people with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for serious health problems from COVID-19, but it appears younger people are also being affected.

A report issued last week by the Centers for Disease Control indicated 38 percent of some 508 hospitalized COVID-19 patients across the country were between the ages of 20 and 54. New York City officials said last week that a quarter of the patients hospitalized for COVID-19 symptoms were between 18 and 49. Anecdotal evidence here in Massachusetts also indicates people younger than 60 are being admitted to hospitals.

Sudders indicated on Tuesday that the nine people who had died to that point from COVID-19 in Massachusetts included one person who was 50 and the rest over 60. She said nearly all of them had underlying health conditions that hindered their ability to fend off the disease. Since then, six more people have died; four of them were in their 70s or 80s with preexisting conditions. The status of the other two was unclear.

Neither Sudders nor Gov. Charlie Baker raised concerns about the health threat for people under 60. Instead, they focused on the large number of people under 60 who are contracting the disease and said it’s up to that age group to stop the spread of the disease so older adults with weakened immune systems don’t catch COVID-19.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The Wednesday report on COVID-19 from the Department of Public Health showed a 59 percent increase in confirmed cases, with the number rising from 1,159 on Tuesday to 1,838 on Wednesday. There were big increases in most parts of the state. Berkshire County, for example, saw a 92 percent increase to 71 cases. Bristol County jumped 116 percent to 67 cases. Middlesex, the leader in total cases, rose 47 percent to 446 cases.

The rate of testing for COVID-19 remained high in the Wednesday report, with 6,225 tests being conducted. Quest Diagnostics, which has a testing lab in Marlborough, reported doing 4,010 tests, which all alone is more than the 3,500 daily test goal set by the Baker administration. Another lab set up at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT is gearing up its testing capabilities and should have the capacity to process 2,000 tests a day with a turnaround time of 12 to 24 hours.